GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Like the standing room-only crowd at Bill Cady Court, Keegan McDowell felt the humidity and intensity inside La Salle's gymnasium.
It was a typical Greater Catholic League South division showdown: Tough and physical, with vocal coaches on the sideline.
McDowell, a 6-foot-5-inch senior guard, experienced cramps toward the end of the game. Free throws came at a premium for Moeller, and the legs get tired on a night like Friday.
But when he looked up at the scoreboard at the buzzer and saw the final result in Moeller’s favor, he felt the significance of his work.
McDowell, a Liberty University signee, had a game-high 17 points to go along with four rebounds and an assist as Moeller defeated La Salle 47-41 and captured at least a share of the GCL South title.
"We are having a lot of fun every day," McDowell said. "Bringing energy and finding ways to get better -- it’s awesome."
Moeller (18-0, 4-0 GCL South), the No. 1-ranked team in the Associated Press Division I state poll, also tied the longest win streak in program history. The 2010-11 Crusaders also started the season 18-0.
Moeller also won at La Salle for the first time since January 2014 -- a first for the current Moeller seniors.
“Never once did we talk about win streaks being our goal,” Moeller coach Carl Kremer said. “Our whole goal is to try get better every day. I told our guys I thought we were better this time playing (La Salle) than the last time we played them (a win at Moeller in January). We better be better the next time we play them. Winning streaks and all that – we put no value in that. Our value is to be the best we can be in March.”
The Crusaders certainly have the look of a team that could go deep in March. Moeller’s defensive pressure gave La Salle fits in the first half. The Lancers scored just two points in the second quarter – on a long perimeter shot by senior guard CJ Fleming.
La Salle (15-3, 2-2 GCL South) shot just 20 percent in the first half (4 of 20).
"I just thought our guys really locked in this week," Kremer said. "I thought our defensive preparation was really good and it showed. Our guys did a good job on knowing the personnel and making the right switches at the right places. I don’t think we could’ve executed much better defensively."
Senior guard Caleb Canter added eight points and grabbed six rebounds. Junior guard Isaiah Payton, sophomore guard Miles McBride and senior forward Riley Voss had six points each.
"We’re just taking it day by day trying to get better every day and we’re not really worried about (being 18-0)," Voss said. "If we’re focused every day we know that in the long run things will just take care of itself."
Moeller led 24-11 at halftime, and Friday’s loss snapped La Salle’s 23-game home win streak.
"We’re just not very good right now," Dan Fleming said. "We have a good record. We are better than a lot of teams. But I think we are underachieving. I do not think we are playing to our capabilities. I don’t know if it’s me or them or a combination."
CJ Fleming, Dan’s son, scored 14 points. Senior guard Tre Crigler led the Lancers with 16 points.
La Salle made two 3-pointers at the start of the third quarter, but Dan Fleming said the outcome was essentially decided at halftime. He gave credit to Moeller but said he wished the Lancers would’ve competed better.
La Salle next plays host to Lebanon Tuesday. Moeller will face off against Western Hills Tuesday.